Sunday, 18 November 2012

How do you know if you're depressed?

I've been thinking about writing this post since I confessed I'm not okay but I'm not sure I will be able to express myself properly. I tend to store my blog posts in my head lately so how well this will translate into "the real world" is anyone's guess!

With the benefit of hindsight, I can see I was depressed when I went to see my doctor back in January if not before, but then I started my Grr Argh challenge and I felt better for a while. I really thought I had beaten whatever it was that had been making me feel so low but reading my blog posts back, I can see it was still there and it was only ever going to be a matter of time before it made a reappearance.
It started innocuously enough, probably around the same time I finished my maternity leave and went back to  part-time work at the start of August 2012. I felt exhausted every day, which wasn't exactly unexpected and on my days at home, I struggled to get going and to properly engage with the boys.
I could rationalise all of that away though. Learning to juggle work and home was challenging, Randall had only just started to sleep through the night and I hadn't had an unbroken night's sleep since before I fell pregnant in 2009. Given time and enough sleep, I figured I'd be fine.
But then, there was one day when I just stopped doing everything that I normally did for me. No blogging, no twitter, no exercise, no more working on my latchhook rug, and sometimes no conversation. There was no part of me that had any interest in engaging with my normal hobbies; I just wanted to sit and not have to do anything.
A part of me knew that wasn't right but I told myself I was obviously recuperating from two close together pregnancies and 2 young children under 2, and I'd get back into doing "stuff" eventually.
I want to say I realised I needed some help when the thoughts started up again. But for a while, they were so convincing that I didn't realise how distorted my thinking was, or how anxious and paranoid.
To me, there was no question that I was boring, useless, unattractive, not good enough and a rubbish mum, and it was only a matter of time before my husband left me.
It was obvious that everyone would be happier without me around and I could tell there were people who wanted to take my children and thought they could do a better job of raising them.
Every illness was never just a cough or a virus; it was Cancer and I was going to die and my children would be too young to remember me.
I cried pretty much every day, or was close to tears. But I figured my hormones were all over the shop with my periods having restarted.
I can remember the times of clarity when I knew my brain wasn't working right and when I would spend the evening googling post-natal depression and depression and desperately hoping I would find something that would tell me in black and white whether I was or not. Was I depressed? Was I sleep-deprived? Were my hormones still settling down? or was it something else? I was so confused.
In the end, it took 2 things to make me take action. The first was a day when I thought "I'm not cut out for this. I should go back to work full-time" and the second was when I made my husband cry. I knew then that if I didn't go and see the doctor, I was going to destroy my family.
Seeing my doctor and starting anti-depressants has transformed my life. It's only now I can truly see how warped my thinking was and I never, ever want to feel like that again. It was really hard to talk about how I was feeling but I am so glad I did. I wish I'd realised earlier that I didn't have to have all the answers and didn't need to try and fix things myself (how I thought I'd do that is anyone's guess!).
Sometimes we all need a little help. This time it was my turn. Next time it could be yours. But it's okay. We're not weak or a failure or a freak or crazy; it's just one of those things and if we all talked a bit more about it, we'd realise how normal it is and how many other people feel exactly the same way we do.
Honestly, they really do.


Jenny (Cheetahs In My Shoes) said...

what a post - sending you a massive hugs and much love. xx

Unknown said...

I'm so glad you were brave, admitted you needed help a.d went and got it. I had no idea how bad you were feeling.

One thing though - and I'm not having a go in any way at all because I think you've been very brave in writing all of this down - working full-time does not mean you're not cut out for being a mum or raising children, or that you love your children any less (speaking as a full-time working mum myself). But, you know I love you xx

Jade said...

It's so hard admitting that there's something amiss in your life. It's made harder by knowing that the only person who can really help you is some doctor you barely know, who you feel will judge your ability as a mother. I haven't been brave enough to write a post about my own PND but it's always a massive relief knowing that someone else feels/felt the way I did. Well done for taking action and I hope things get much easier for you.

(Found your blog on MN)

Claire said...

So much of this struck a chord with me, especially the part about every illness being cancer and dying while your children are too young to remember you. I struggled so much with this exact anxiety after Nathaniel was born, compounded by a subsequent miscarriage that I blamed on the awful disease they had yet to diagnose, then when Amelia was born I turned it outwards and thought there was something wrong with her (made worse by her being in and out of hospital).

I'm so glad you posted this, huge props to you for being so honest and open about it. It's been lovely seeing you getting back into the world, you were sorely missed x

Clara said...

What a tough time you've been having.
It takes huge courage to take those first steps to recovery - and I strongly believe that doing so is a sign of great emotional health: it means that somewhere inside you know you can and will and deserve to be happy again.

Mummy Plum said...

I'm so sorry to hear what you've been going though. It sounds a terrible time, but, I'm so glad to hear that you've taken the steps to get help too, and that it is helping. x

Unknown said...

What an amazing post - I wish you all the best with your recovery x

Charlie - Sophia's Choice said...

Having suffered with PND myself I can so empathize with what you write in this beautifully honest post. It's not easy admitting to ourselves that we are ill and need help. And it takes an even longer time to forgive ourselves and know that despite it all we are still great parents to our little ones. I think more of us need to be open about PND. It's probably more common than we realise. xx

Anonymous said...

This is pretty much what I've been thinking lately. Thanks for being there for me recently, and for writing this.
I hope you're feeling more in control and that things are improving.

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